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The Road Toughens for Syracuse Men’s Basketball

Judah Mintz (white, 3) looks for options against Bryant. Mintz was ejected after slapping Doug Edert (black, 25).
Judah Mintz (white, 3) looks for options against Bryant. Mintz was ejected after slapping Doug Edert (black, 25).

Syracuse men’s basketball finished the 2021-22 season at 16-17, the first losing season in 46 years under Jim Boeheim. Now in year number 47, the Orange are at risk of dipping below .500 just seven contests into the new campaign.

With seven true freshmen, the highest ranked being Judah Mintz, entering the SU program, ‘Cuse fans did not know what to expect from the Orange this season. When Syracuse fell to Colgate for the second straight year in game two, the concerns about the program returned.

After a 2-1 start, SU traveled down to Brooklyn, hoping to turn a corner at the Empire Classic. Syracuse traveled back to CNY with an overtime win against Richmond and an OT defeat in the championship to St. John’s. Overall, the Orange appeared much more confident and a stronger side, impressing their head coach. “Coming to New York, we had not played well,” said Jim Boeheim. “In the Colgate game, in the second game of the year, we struggled. We came down here and I thought we played as well as we can play for two days.”

The attitude around the program shifted when Syracuse lost 73-72 to Bryant this past Saturday in the JMA Wireless Dome. The game featured a first half skirmish, leading to six ejections, including starters Judah Mintz and Doug Edert. Mintz, a Syracuse guard, and Edert, a transfer guard at Bryant, were the two instigators during the chaos.

In the end, Mintz was forced to sit and watch his team fall in an upset from the SU locker room. “Sitting out and watching the game hurts more than playing in it,” the freshman said. “I’m disappointed in myself. I’m proud of my teammates for continuing to fight, but it’s just disappointing.”

With Mintz returning to the floor for a 3-3 Orange team, Syracuse now faces its toughest test thus far in No. 16 Illinois. The Fighting Illini have only dropped one game this season, a 70-61 loss at the hands of No. 3 Virginia. It is the first matchup between the two schools since the 1995 Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The toughest test for SU to defend is Illini guard Terrence Shannon Jr. The Chicago native transferred to Illinois this year after three seasons with Texas Tech. Despite averaging just 13 points per game in his best season with the Red Raiders, the transfer is averaging over 20 points per game to start 2022.

The Orange will try to slow down Shannon Jr. and a top-25 Illini offense that averages nearly 85 points per game. Gametime between Syracuse and Illinois is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the State Farm Center. WAER’s coverage begins with McClurg Team Countdown to Tipoff at 7.